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Ubiquitous Computing and Library Futures

I was intrigued by a talk on ubiquitous computing (Ubicomp) and library futures, and I was not disappointed. Chris Peters, Technical Analyst at Techsoup, and Michael Porter, Community Project Manager at WebJunction, gave us a fascinating glimpse into the future. They define Ubicomp as “a model of human-computer interaction in which information processing has been thoroughly integrated into everyday objects and activities. You can also think of it as computing and information access happening when and where we need it.

It’s no secret that computers have become pervasive in our society, but what is equally obvious is that it has been in an intrusive way. We have been forced to focus on the technology and how to use it, and often that causes us to lose the focus on why we employed the technology in the first place. Ubicomp will be enabled by “calm” technology that is everywhere but effectively invisible. It will not intrude on our focus. The computer will serve you rather than you serving the computer. Some examples include RFID chips in books, an umbrella that flows to indicate when rain or snow is forecast (so you remember to take it with you), and telephony by cell phones (you just turn them on and make your call). Trends and technologies that will drive Ubicomp include:
  • Cheap information processing, cheap memory and storage
  • Wireless networking
  • Interoperability and open standards
  • Universal addressability (every device will have an IP address)
  • Sensors (light level, sound level, temperature, etc.)
  • Location awareness (an example from Wikipedia
For more details, click here.   
Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL 2008 Blog Coordinator


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